WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With three cases of Ebola diagnosed in the United States and more than 100 people being monitored for possible infection, President Barack Obama said on Saturday that Americans “can’t give in to hysteria or fear” about the spread of the virus.
While Obama administration and world health officials remained focused on tackling Ebola at its source in three WestAfrican countries, Texas state authorities said 14 people had been cleared from an Ebola watch list.
Three weeks of monitoring for fever and other symptoms was expected to end for others in the next two days if they remained asymptomatic.
Those include Louise Troh in Dallas, fiancée of the now deceased Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan, who became the first US-diagnosed Ebola case in late September while visiting her. Troh, her 13-year-old son and two Duncan relatives have been in mandatory quarantine in Dallas that ends on Sunday.
The Texas Department of State Health Services said in a statement that 145 people with “contacts and possible contacts” with the virus were being monitored.
In his weekly radio address, Obama made plain he does not plan to accede to demands from some US lawmakers for a ban on travellers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the worst-hit countries, where more than 4,500 people have died since March in the worst Ebola outbreak on record.
“We can’t just cut ourselves off from West Africa,” Obama said. “Trying to seal off an entire region of the world, if that were even possible, could actually make the situation worse.”
Obama, who has been criticised over his administration’s handling of Ebola, held a flurry of meetings this week and on Friday appointed Ron Klain, an experienced Washington lawyer, to oversee efforts to contain the disease.
Republicans questioned why he did not pick a medical expert.
“I hope he (Klain) is successful in this. I think it’s a step in the right direction, but I just question picking someone without any background in public health,” Republican Rep and House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce told CNN.
The World Health Organization has also been faulted for failing to do enough to halt the spread of the virus. The WHO said it would publish a full review of its handling of the crisis once the outbreak was under control.
There is no cure or approved vaccine yet for Ebola but pharmaceutical companies have been working on experimental drugs. The virus is transmitted through an infected person’s bodily fluids and is not airborne.